Worship, Create, Encourage

Purposes

Hi, I’m Brad. I write this on a clear summer morning in August of 2019. I am compelled to write to you because I have a life purpose. Well, 3 purposes in 1. Because of my new life in Christ, I live to

  • worship
  • create
  • encourage

(Might I add that I love to worship, create and encourage…)

1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.” From that, I have understood that my life purpose is to “do everything for the glory of God.” Everything.

Seriously, everything?

Now, I confess immediately that I don’t do everything all the time for the glory of God. I’m not proud of that. It’s just a fact of my humanity, even in my redemption from “my empty way of life” (1 Pet. 1:18). I sin. I stumble. I fall. It’s just there as a reality of life. (This doesn’t mean that I am helpless…oh, no, far from helpless. But more on that at another time.)

But, even though I fail, I can say with Paul that I make it my aim (2 Cor. 5:9) to do everything for the glory of God. And in that one central purpose, I have discerned 3 particular ways that I strive to fulfill. And in my effort to live out those 3 purposes, one result is this communication with you, dear reader.

My life and your life and the intersection

I will be developing these themes over the next few posts. But let me sum up my central reason for writing to you. I want to help you to worship the living God. Therefore, my writing will aim to advance these themes.

  • help – my ongoing prayer is that I will write something helpful to you. I’m not a deep theologian, but I am a theologian (as are you…). So, my writing will not be profound or revolutionary. But I pray it is helpful in that you will be able to understand it and in some way apply it
  • you – I have taken the writing form of a personal address to you, my dear reader. Some of you I will know personally, and some not. But I will strive to maintain a personal address to you as though you are a dear friend for whom I want the very best in life.
  • worship – I have taken in my life a central purpose of worship. I will encourage you to do the same. I will attempt to do so creatively. There are those three words again. For you, I hope you find your key words for life.
  • living – these are written that you may live a God-glorifying, others-helping life NOW. You are living now. I am living now. I seek to help you (and me) live a life of meaning NOW, because in doing so, we are preparing for an eternity of enjoying a fuller experience of joy in Christ. We can only do so perfectly in His presence as we strive to do so now imperfectly.
  • God – There is one God and one Mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 2:5). My ultimate aim is that you and I would know Him and love Him and live for Him above all and at all cost, forsaking all else for the supreme joy of knowing him (Phil. 3:7-8). We come to know God the Father through Jesus the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Join me on the journey

I make only the promise of weekly posts. This may increase at times. Because I am a pastor with a full rich life, there may be times when the frequency may be less. There may be times when I will explode with several in the course of a few days. But, I’d rather under-promise and over-deliver.

You can subscribe to this through WordPress. You can follow me on Twitter @oh_magnify. I’ll also cross-post notices on Facebook at shbcspokane. And, I’ll post notices on my Instagram account thgmusic. Feel free to follow where you like.

I do moderate the comments on my posts. I enjoy civil discourse, but reserve the right to not allow verbally abusive posts.

I’ll see you next time.

The Lord made the heavens

For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Psalm 96:5 (ESV)

I’ve been thinking about this verse for a couple of days. There are many places in Scripture where we are reminded of the utter helplessness and impotence of man-made objects of worship. These are “idols” that become “gods” to us. These are objects that we fashion ourselves, as in Psalm 115:4-8:

Their idols are silver and gold,

the work of human hands.

They have mouths, but do not speak;

eyes, but do not see.

They have ears, but do not hear;

noses, but do not smell.

They have hands, but do not feel;

feet, but do not walk;

and they do not make a sound in their throat.

Those who make them become like them;

so do all who trust in them.

Impotent, powerless, insensitive, empty. Made of precious materials, but of no value whatsoever.

But why in the immediate context, does the psalmist compare the “gods” to the Lord as the maker of “the heavens”?

This is what I’ve been thinking about. The Lord of my life “made the heavens.” This echoes Genesis 1:1, In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Out of nothing, God created everything. What has an idol created? It had to be fashioned, either as a physical object, as with the “worthless idols” referred to in the psalm, or as an object in my mind, such as my sense of self-worth, pride, desire, passion, or self-confidence.

“But the LORD made the heavens.”

Oh, foolish heart! Why do I continue to trust in myself? Why do I continue to put myself as the greatest idol of my life? All worthless idols are just means to an end: self-exaltation. I don’t even want the idols or want to worship the idols for what they are. I want what they can give me, make me–how they can satisfy my never-ending need for what I want: glory.

And I resist God’s glorious call to me because I know that God will not serve me. I must come to him and worship him for who he is, and that alone. Though the phrase, “who he is”, is full of everything that was, is and is to come. He will not be confined by my limited knowledge of him.

I want to be known! “But the LORD made the heavens.”

I want fame! “But the LORD made the heavens.”

I want to be esteemed and revered! “But the LORD made the heavens.”

I want to be loved on my terms! “But the LORD made the heavens.”

I want my desires to be fulfilled! “But the LORD made the heavens.”

“But the LORD made the heavens.”

“But the LORD made the heavens.”

“But the LORD made the heavens.”

I am crushed into surrendered sweetness by the weight of his glory.

“I shall again praise him…”

Why are you cast down, o my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. Psalm 42:11

The longing to praise God doesn’t go away when I am in the depths of despair. I wrestle within my soul because I know the truth: God is my salvation and my hope, my only surety, the only one in whom I can fully trust. I know these things!

So, why I am struggling so? Why am I so sad?

Oh, God, is my wrestling with these thoughts worship? I am trying to work these things out before you. Am I giving you praise in the midst of it? And by that I mean am I looking to you alone for the answers? Praise is recognizing God, recognizing you, Father, for all you are. All of your majesty, all of your holiness, all of your love, all of your grace, all of your justice, all of your faithfulness, all of your steadfastness, all of your power.

As I cry out to you from the depths of my despair I am seeing through the tears, through the dimness of the dark day, that you are the only one I can turn to. You are the only one I can cry out to. So, I am praising you. I am worshiping you, even in the pain. I praise you in the dark as I seek your light.

There is a dawn coming. And in the light of that dawn, I will see you anew and afresh. I shall again praise you in the light of day.

Roots of worship


Gratitude is rooted in remembering. Joy, peace and worship are the fruit growing out of the healthy vine of thankfulness.

Psalm 9:1-2

I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart;

I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.

I will be glad and exult in you;

I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.

Heaven is like…


I woke up early this morning. I don’t know why, really. Maybe it was so I could see this sunrise.

I thought, “Heaven is like this…” 

But then I realized there will be a day with no more analogies of “Heaven is like…” 

There will just be an eternal day of Heaven is.

Piano improv – Sunday morning July 3, 2016

United Kingdom

Because some asked for this, I’m posting it here. This was my improv during communion this Sunday, July 3. I didn’t have anything planned for this segment, so this is spontaneous worship. The clatter you hear are the platters with the communion bread being distributed and collected.

Listen

Download (right click, then “save as…”)

My morning thought

Psalm 34:1 I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad.
3 Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!

20130923-115625.jpg

Spurgeon on the blessings of praise

This is a wonderful exhortation on the blessings of praise. It comes from the devotional, “Morning and Evening.”

“I will praise thee, O Lord.”
— Psalm 9:1

Praise should always follow answered prayer; as the mist of earth’s gratitude rises when the sun of heaven’s love warms the ground. Hath the Lord been gracious to thee, and inclined his ear to the voice of thy supplication? Then praise him as long as thou livest. Let the ripe fruit drop upon the fertile soil from which it drew its life. Deny not a song to him who hath answered thy prayer and given thee the desire of thy heart.

To be silent over God’s mercies is to incur the guilt of ingratitude; it is to act as basely as the nine lepers, who after they had been cured of their leprosy, returned not to give thanks unto the healing Lord. To forget to praise God is to refuse to benefit ourselves; for praise, like prayer, is one great means of promoting the growth of the spiritual life.

It helps to remove our burdens, to excite our hope, to increase our faith. It is a healthful and invigorating exercise which quickens the pulse of the believer, and nerves him for fresh enterprises in his Master’s service. To bless God for mercies received is also the way to benefit our fellow-men; “the humble shall hear thereof and be glad.” Others who have been in like circumstances shall take comfort if we can say, “Oh! magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together; this poor man cried, and the Lord heard him.” Weak hearts will be strengthened, and drooping saints will be revived as they listen to our “songs of deliverance.” Their doubts and fears will be rebuked, as we teach and admonish one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. They too shall “sing in the ways of the Lord,” when they hear us magnify his holy name.

Praise is the most heavenly of Christian duties. The angels pray not, but they cease not to praise both day and night; and the redeemed, clothed in white robes, with palm-branches in their hands, are never weary of singing the new song, “Worthy is the Lamb.”

C.H. Spurgeon

Sit at Jesus’ feet

I love C. H. Spurgeon’s call to love Jesus with all we are for all that He is. This is from his devotional, “Morning and Evening”

Morning, October 14

 

“I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.” 

— Philippians 3:8

 

Spiritual knowledge of Christ will be a personal knowledge. I cannot know Jesus through another person’s acquaintance with him. No, I must know him myself; I must know him on my own account. It will be an intelligent knowledge—I must know him, not as the visionary dreams of him, but as the Word reveals him. I must know his natures, divine and human. I must know his offices—his attributes—his works—his shame—his glory. I must meditate upon him until I “comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.” It will be an affectionate knowledge of him; indeed, if I know him at all, I must love him. An ounce of heart knowledge is worth a ton of head learning. Our knowledge of him will be a satisfying knowledge. When I know my Saviour, my mind will be full to the brim—I shall feel that I have that which my spirit panted after. “This is that bread whereof if a man eat he shall never hunger.” At the same time it will be an exciting knowledge; the more I know of my Beloved, the more I shall want to know. The higher I climb the loftier will be the summits which invite my eager footsteps. I shall want the more as I get the more. Like the miser’s treasure, my gold will make me covet more. To conclude; this knowledge of Christ Jesus will be a most happy one; in fact, so elevating, that sometimes it will completely bear me up above all trials, and doubts, and sorrows; and it will, while I enjoy it, make me something more than “Man that is born of woman, who is of few days, and full of trouble”; for it will fling about me the immortality of the ever living Saviour, and gird me with the golden girdle of his eternal joy. Come, my soul, sit at Jesus’s feet and learn of him all this day.

 

Overlapping Devotional thoughts

As part of my daily devotions I read through Scripture and read from Kenneth Osbeck’s “Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions”. I also frequently read from C. H. Spurgeon’s excellent “Morning and Evening” devotional. Today there was a happy overlapping of the devotional thoughts from them. First, here is a quote from the Spurgeon:

“We are married unto Christ; and shall our great Bridegroom permit his spouse to linger in constant grief? Our hearts are knit unto him: we are his members, and though for awhile we may suffer as our Head once suffered, yet we are even now blessed with heavenly blessings in him. We have the earnest (down payment or guarantee) of our inheritance in the comforts of the Spirit, which are neither few nor small. Inheritors of joy for ever, we have foretastes of our portion. There are streaks of the light of joy to herald our eternal sunrising. Our riches are beyond the sea; our city with firm foundations lies on the other side the river; gleams of glory from the spirit-world cheer our hearts, and urge us onward.”

The hymn for today is called “The Sands of Time Are Sinking” by Anne Ross Cousin (1824-1906). Here is the hymn text, as quoted in the devotional:

The sands of time are sinking, the dawn of heaven breaks; the summer morn I’ve sighed for—the fair, sweet morn awakes. Dark, dark hath been the midnight, but day-spring is at hand, and glory, glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

O Christ, He is the fountain, the deep, sweet well of love! The streams on earth I’ve tasted more deep I’ll drink above: There to an ocean fulness His mercy doth expand, and glory, glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

O I am my Beloved’s, and my Beloved’s mine! He brings a poor vile sinner into His “house of wine.” I stand upon His merit—I know no other stand, not e’en where glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

The Bride eyes not her garment but her dear Bridegroom’s face; I will not gaze at glory but on my King of grace, not at the crown He giveth but on His pierced hand: The Lamb is all the glory of Immanuel’s land.

Spurgeon says, “we have foretastes of our portion”. The hymn says, “the streams on earth I’ve tasted more deep I’ll drink above.”

“There are streaks of the light of joy to herald our eternal sunrising”, says Spurgeon.  “The dawn of heaven breaks…the fair, sweet morn awakes” speaks the hymn.

There is also the comparison of the church and Christ as Bridegroom and Bride: “We are married unto Christ; and shall our great Bridegroom permit his spouse to linger in constant grief?” “The Bride eyes not her garment but her dear Bridegroom’s face.”

All, all of this is written to encourage our hearts towards thoughts of our eternal home. May we ever more be sighing for that “summer morn” of the Eternal Day in Heaven…